El Torito Managers Denied Class Certification

The courts are not requiring class certification in class actions attacking the executive exemption. The main point continues to be that the trial court's decision is entitled to lots of deference. If the trial court's factual findings are supported by "substantial evidence" is does not matter that there is conflicting evidence. The appellate court then looks to whether the trial court applied the proper legal standard. The bottom line is that the trial court has a lot of power in class certification matters.

In this case, involving restaurant managers, the trial court properly found evidence that a class of managers, even broken into sub-classes, was not amenable to common class treatment. Therefore, the court of appeal upheld the trial court's denial of certification. The court sets forth a long discussion regarding what the trial court found to be important on the certification issue....

The plaintiff arguments that classifying everyone as exempt proves commonality, and that chain restaurant managers don't have enough discretion to create individual issues precluding class certification, continue to be losers.

So lawyers defending restaurants in wage and hour matters, take note.

Arenas v. El Torito Restaurants, Inc. et al. and the opinion is here.